Today I spoke about the decision to remove the Office of the Child Advocate and what a mistake it is for Ontario youth.
Mr. Ian Arthur: I rise today to condemn the decision to remove the Office of the Child Advocate. Folding it into the Ombudsman’s office is a mistake that will drain resources essential to protecting and advocating for youth in Ontario.
The child advocate did actual advocacy work. This is such an important point to make, and one that is missing from the Ombudsman’s abilities.
There were programs that the advocate has worked on, including Feathers of Hope, which provided 41 recommendations to address youth suicide in Indigenous communities; You Are Not Alone, which is an important initiative that supports LGBTQ youth; and HairStory, which was established to help better position young Black people in the province.
When the children’s advocate found out that he was being fired—through the media—his thoughts went to the children. There were 27 current investigations that his office was conducting when they found out that they had been shut down—27 investigations that the office is now unable to pursue.
Moving the children’s advocate into the Ombudsman’s office is a mistake, and it is the children and youth who are going to be the biggest losers in this bureaucratic transaction. So-called efficiencies should not be found at the expense of children and youth, the very people who represent the future of this province. What future does this government want for children if they see fit to remove their biggest advocate?